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Friday, 19 October 2018

The ultimate part of Ramadan

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 This virtuous night is called ‘Laylatul-Qadr’; meaning ‘The Night of Power’. It is on this night that the holy Qur’an was revealed to Prophet Muhammad (SAW) through Angel Jibril. The Prophet (SAW) exhorts Muslims to spend substantial part of this night in worship; seeking mercy and forgiveness of their sins from Allah (SWT). 

However, Allah (SWT) in His wisdom has concealed the knowledge of the exact night of Laylatul-Qadr (just as He hides other forms of knowledge mentioned in Qur’an31:34)from us. Aisha (RA) reports that the Prophet (SAW) said, ‘Search for Laylatul-Qadr in the last ten days of Ramadan’. Imam Malik (RA) reports in his Muwatta that Ziyad related from Malik that he heard a man he trusted of the people of knowledge say, ‘The Messenger of Allah (SAW) was shown the lifespan of the people (who had gone) before himand it was as if the lifecycle of his ummah had comparatively become too short for them (to have enough time) to do as many good deeds as those before them did. So, Allah gave him Laylatul-Qadr, which is better than a thousand months’. 


Many scholars share the view that Laylatul-Qadr falls on either the night of 21st, 23rd, 25th, 27th or 29th which are the odd days in the last ten days of Ramadan. In practical terms, Muslims are encouraged to search forLaylatul-Qadr on the night preceding the odd days listed above. For example, today Saturday June 17, 2017 which is the 22nd day of Ramadan is also a night to search for Laylatul-Qadr; being the night preceding the 23rd day of Ramadan. Many scholars opine that Laylatul-Qadr occurs on the 27th day of Ramadan. A School of Thought that shares this view goes further to explain that the Arabic letters which make up the Arabic phrase ‘Laylatul-Qadr’ are nine in number, and that the phrase occurs three times in the holy Qur’an. It gives a total of 27 when nine is multiplied by 3; buttressing 27th of Ramadan as Laylatul-Qadr.


Muslims are generally exhorted by the Prophet (SAW) to intensify their acts of devoutionduring the last ten days of Ramadan.No restrictions are placed on a Muslim as to which particular form of worship to engage in on the night of Laylatul-Qadr.It is nonetheless profitable if a Muslim diversifies his devoutions as to include tilawah (recitation the holy Qur’an), observing nafilah (superogatory) prayers, seeking for forgiveness, asking for favours, glorifying Allah throughTasbih (saying ‘Suhana-llah’), or Takbir (saying Allahu Akbar), or Tahlil (saying ‘La ilahaila-llah’), orTahmid (saying Alhamdulillah, or similar invocations of glory and gratitude to Allah (SWT). Aisha (RA) once asked the Prophet (SAW) of what to recite on theLaylatul-Qadr night. The Prophet (SAW) replied, ‘Say: O Allah! You are Pardon; You like Pardon; Pardon me’, which Arabic version reads as: ‘Allahumma Anta Afwun,Tuhibbul-Afwa, Fa’fuanni’.


Another virtuous act of devoution in this period of Ramadan is I’tikaf. It refers to seclusion in a mosque during the last ten days of Ramadan. A Muslim who observes I’tikaf is called Mu’takif in Arabic. I’tikaf aims at isolating the heart of aMu’takif from everything except Allah (SWT). In order to get closer to Allah (SWT), all worldly activities aredeserted while in I’tikaf. All the thoughts and devotions of aMu’takif are focused on Allah (SWT). And like the Prophet (SAW) mentioned in the thirty-eighth hadith of Annawawi’s collection of forty traditions, a Mu’takif would continue to get closer to Allah (SWT) with voluntary acts of worship so much so that ‘He (SWT) becomes the hearing with which His servant hears, the seeing with which he sees, the hand with which he takes (things), and the foot with which he walks’. May Allah (SWT) put us among those to attain this spiritual elevation during this Ramadan.


Scholars are united in their opinion that I’tikaf must be observed only in a mosque where Friday (Jumu’ah) prayer is conducted. This is to avoid a situation where the Mu’takif would have to leave his mosque of seclusion for another in order to observe the Jumu’ahcongregational prayer. However, a Mu’takif may wish to observe I’tikaf in any mosque if he intends to spend few days in seclusion, which do not include Friday. It is most preferable that a believer spends ten days inI’tikaf. The least number of days for a Mu’takif to remain in seclusion is a day and a night. 


The time to enter in to I’tikaf is usually before sunset of the day the Mu’takif desires to begin the seclusion. While in seclusion, the Mu’takif is prohibited from visiting the sick, attending funeral prayers, having conjugal relationships, and from buying and selling. Engaging in any of these acts vitiates the I’tikaf. A Mu’takif is not required to engage in extensive studies or writing. A worshipper in I’tikafis encouraged to engage much in voluntary prayers, recitation of the holy Qur’an and the glorification of Allah’s most beautiful names. 


A Mu’takifshould avoid entering in to his family house or intermingling with his family members. His interaction with the outside world should be reduced to the barest minimum except forreasons of answering the call of nature or attending toa very important matter. He must however return to his I’tikaf spot immediately after attending tosuch exigencies. A Mu’takif is required to, on the first day of the Islamic month of Shawwal (i.e. Eid el-Fitr day), proceed directly from the mosque in which he observed I’tikaf to the Eid praying ground and would not return to his family until he had offered the Eid prayers along with other worshippers.


For those who do not have the resources to perform Umrah in Makkah, which for some years have become an annual jamboree among Nigerian Muslims; devoutions in search of Laylatul-Qadr as well as partaking in I’tikaf are other rewarding forms of worship. Let us encourage our family members, male and female, to engage in these worthwhile acts of ibadah. May Allah (SWT) accept our devoutions, amin. Ramadan Kareem!

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